“Menopause is natural, but symptoms and weight gain are optional,” says Anna Cabeca, DO, author of MenuPause. The fix: Follow her mini menopause diet plans, dieting for six days and feasting for one, before moving to the next or repeating your favorite. Always eat three meals a day, pausing sugar, alcohol, and processed carbs.
Blood Sugar Issues?
Start with the six-day keto-green plan, where you limit carbs and pause inflammatory foods, namely grains, eggs, butter, legumes, nightshades (like tomatoes and eggplant), nuts and seeds. Focus mostly on healthy fats (avocado and olive oil), then protein (meat, fish) and limit carbs from fruit and veggies to 40 daily grams.
Your dinner formula: one protein serving, two servings of low-carb vegetables + one to two fat servings. This plan stabilizes blood sugar, which is good news for women who suffer from hot flashes that are caused by blood sugar–impacted changes in blood pressure.
Eat your broccoli. Cruciferous veggies contain natural compounds that halt the expansion of fat cells, while reducing a “bad” form of synthetic estrogens in the body.
Stay hydrated. Dr. Cabeca says, “Drinking water is critically important when starting a new regimen to help your body with detoxification.”
Stir-fry: Sauté three ounces sliced chicken thighs with one tablespoon of olive oil. Serve with 1 cup steamed broccoli and bell peppers over cauliflower rice
Bothered by Aches and Pains?
On this six-day carnivore plan, you’ll pause all food groups except animal products: meat, fish and eggs. (Try hard-boiled eggs for breakfast, chili for lunch and fish for dinner.)
“This plan is an effective way to smash past a weight-loss plateau,” says Dr. Cabeca. “Protein can help you spotreduce your tummy, so expect to lose a pound a day or more.”
This approach is also a great pain eraser, and supports healthy blood vessels to ease hot flashes. And thanks to the amino acid arginine, found in meat, this plan helps restore muscle tissue lost in menopause. Top tips:
Opt for anti-aging protein. Sip a cup of collagen-rich bone broth to quell cravings between meals. Functional medicine expert Amy Myers, MD, says, “Collagen turns your body into a fat-burning machine, even when you’re at rest!”
Take digestive enzymes after meals. They speed nutrient absorption, signaling “fullness” faster.
Pork chops: In a skillet, sear a six ounce chop in one tablespoon of ghee for six minutes on each side, then cook for five additional minutes. Baste with juices.
Battle Chronic Constipation?
For six days, you’ll pause acid-forming foods like meat and cheese and enjoy three alkalinizing plant-based meals a day. Reach for fruits, veggies, beans, tempeh, tofu, lentils, and seeds, plus healthy fats and healing spices like garlic.
“Most of us don’t get enough fiber and don’t realize how constipated we are,” says Dr. Cabeca, but this fiber-rich plan restores regularity while maintaining ketosis. Also smart:
Chew well. To extract the healing properties of hard-to-breakdown plant proteins, “slow down and really chew your food,” says Dr. Cabeca. Not only will you digest food more easily, research shows that chewing 40 times per bite curbs production of hunger hormones.
Eat probiotic foods, like coconut-milk yogurt and fermented sauerkraut, which heal the microbiome to improve digestion and ease pain and bloat. As a result, you’ll shed what Dr. Cabeca calls “toxic waist” that collects in the midsection.
Lentil soup: Heat 3⁄4 cup red lentils in a pot with two cups vegetable broth. Cook until tender. Season with spices and fresh parsley
Challenged by Nonstop Worry?
To boost energy and improve your mood, you’ll pause solid foods on this liquid detox plan, built around juices, broth, caffeine-free teas, and smoothies made with leafy green veggies, low-sugar fruit, and nuts.
Dr. Cabeca says, “In one smoothie you can sip a combination of nutrients that reduce cortisol, normalize insulin, regulate estrogen levels, improve mood and increase metabolism.” In one study of women on a similar plan, all felt less anxious and depressed in a week. Top tips:
Feast on gratitude. “This is a detox, so you’ll also detox from negative thoughts and focus on what you’re grateful for,” says Dr. Cabeca. This quiets the brain, leading to 47 percent fewer cravings.
Add fat. Start the day with two tablespoons of olive oil and a squeeze of lemon. “It gives the body nutrients that end cravings,” says Dr. Cabeca. “At first, women think, ‘I’m not doing that,’ but soon they look forward to it. And the weight-loss results are insane.”
Smoothie bowl: Blend one cup unsweetened cashew milk, one cup spinach, 1⁄2 avocado, and a dash of cinnamon. Top with your favorite fruit and unsweetened coconut
Keep on slimming! After completing your mini plans, add some carbs by introducing healthy non-keto meals. If you find symptoms or pounds creep back, return to the mini plans. Find additional recipes and Dr. Cabeca’s extra “pause” plan in her new book MenuPause (Buy from Amazon, $24.29).
This article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.
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